Kansas State showed a glimpse of its potential on the offensive end, as the Wildcats connected on 50 percent or better from the field in both halves to out-muscle a determined Omaha squad, 79-64, on Wednesday night before 5,259 fans at Bramlage Coliseum.
In a complete reversal of the nail-biter from last season, in which, K-State won 60-58 on a 3-pointer by then freshman Selton Miguel with 9.7 second remaining, the Wildcats (2-0) led from start to finish against the Mavericks (1-2). K-State led by as many 26 points before Omaha scored 13 of the last 15 points to close the gap.
K-State was efficient on the offensive end, converting on 52.8 percent (28-of-53) from the field, including 47.4 percent (9-of-19) from 3-point range, and knocking down 14 of 16 free throw attempts. The Wildcats had 18 assists on their 28 made field goals while scoring 34 points in the paint.
Seven Wildcats had at least 8 points, including four double-digit scorers with 15 points each from sophomores Ish Massoud and Nijel Pack and 11 for both fifth-year senior Mark Smith and junior Markquis Nowell. Big men Kaosi Ezeagu and Davion Bradford combined for 16 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Miguel dished out a team-best 6 assists in his first start of the season, while Pack added 5.
The Wildcats connected on 54.8 percent (17-of-31) of their field goals in the first half with 10 assists to build as much as a 21-point lead then followed it by knocking down 50 percent (11-of-22) of their shots in the second half with 8 assists to build as much as the aforementioned 26-point advantage. It marked the first time the team shot better than 50 percent in both halves since a win against Milwaukee on Dec. 11, 2020.
The defense, which showed promise in the opening win over Florida A&M on November 10, struggled at times against an Omaha team that nearly overcame a 29-point deficit against Ball State on Saturday. Although the Mavericks only shot 34.7 percent (23-of-66) from the field, 11 of their 23 field goals came on 3-pointers, while they took advantage of some sloppy Wildcat turnovers to score 20 points.
Omaha junior Kyle Luedtke came off the bench to lead all scorers with 16 points on 6-of-14 field goals, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range. Five other Mavericks had at least 6 points, including 8 each by seniors Sam’i Roe and Darrius Hughes.
The win gave K-State a 2-0 start for the seventh time in the last 8 seasons but for the first time since the 2019-20 season. The Wildcats have now started 2-0 under head coach Bruce Weber in 8 of his 10 seasons.